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At least he’s consistent

Many of us are aware bin Laden was not US funded. Fewer of us have the information at hand to prove it when faced with an adamant statement that “the US funded and trained bin Laden!”.

Osama paid his own way. Through his wealthy Saudi friends he helped finance a jihad against the Russians by forces entirely seperate from other, less religiously fanatical, guerrilla forces. Even those forces were not funded directly by the CIA. The money went to Pakistan and the arms went in via the Pakistani ISI. In hindsight this had some some serious downsides. It made the ISI nearly independent of the central government. Later the ISI did indeed back the Taliban during the post-Russian Kabul free-for-all.

But not bin Laden. The linked story by Richard Miniter (author of Losing bin Laden) has an extra nice touch to it. This bin Laden quote:

“We were never, at any time, friends of the Americans. We knew that the Americans supported the Jews in Palestine and that they are our enemies.”

comes from an article written by… Robert Fisk.

3 comments to At least he’s consistent

  • Very interesting article – hadn’t realised the Afghan and Arab resistances in Afghanistan were entirely separate organisations before…

    However, it seems to make two claims, one of which is persuasive. This is the point that the US never funded Arab Afghans. If true, it’s a pretty strong refutation of the idea that the US supported UBL.

    The other is less persuasive – the idea that even if the US had funded Arab Afghans, it wouldn’t have been funding UBL because he was only the quartermaster for Arab Afghans and never left the battlefields.

    If I gave money to some bloke at a mosque in Birmingham, who funnelled it through all sorts of dubious networks until it found its way to an Al-Qaida cell somewhere, only a very pedantic person would deny that I was funding UBL (subject to him still being alive, being spiritual leader of Al Qaida, etc…)

  • Shaun Bourke

    I seem to remember Time magazine wrote a number of articles in the early to mid 80’s that develed into the funding of the various operations being carried out aganist the Kabul government.

  • Peter Lee

    Interesting article indeed. The omission of ISI from the Fox article is telling given that independent US intelligence was non-existent and completely relied on ISI intelligence on the ground and satellite photographs. This left ISI free to support whomever suited their own interests, namely leaders who lacked large scale support within Afghanistan, thus reliant on ISI and could be controlled. A particular example of this Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who is still, i believe, warlording his way around swathes of Afghanistan. He was an ally again when defeating the Taliban and was suitably armed to the teeth then. Now he has survived and learned through two wars been heavily armed both times by the US, controls lucrative drug routes and has a large following. Is it any wonder the tin-pot Afghan is struggling to impose itself.

    The point is the US may not have funded bin Laden but it wasn’t a conscious decision. They way money was (and is) thrown around in Afghanistan and other parts of the world may solve a problem in the short term but god knows what the future consequences may be.